It appears no fee will be charged to use the walking track at the new Hay River rec centre when it opens, at least in the beginning.

That was the consensus among councillors following a lengthy discussion on Jan. 16 on whether or not a fee should be charged to use the walking track.

The discussion was part of consideration of the Rec Centre’s 2018 rates, which were to be voted on at the Jan. 30 meeting.

At the Jan. 16 meeting, Coun. Jason Coakwell noted there was no fee to use the walking track in the 2018 rates.

“I personally would like to see a fee, even if it’s a minimal one for use of the walking track,” he said. “It’s an added feature to the facility and I think it will be well-used, and as with any of our facilities, I don’t think they should be free.”

Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind agreed.

“I’m actually surprised to see that it came forward as a no-pay because I know there was a lengthy conversation at the recreation board, and the recreation board recommended that there be a fee, even though that it be nominal,” she noted.

Jungkind offered many reasons for a fee, including that the track could then become a programmable part of the rec centre.

“They wanted it to be understood that when people are using it that they are actually paying to use it, that there shouldn’t be other people on the track that aren’t actually there using it for that specific reason,” she said, using the example of a seniors’ walking program.

Coun. Keith Dohey noted the recreation board had changed its thinking and voted for no fee at its latest meeting.

“We kicked it around and obviously everything that the deputy mayor just brought up was discussed at length again, and I guess there was enough thought there that we go with no fee, that we change direction on that,” he said.

Dohey noted the walking track could still be blocked off for specific activities without a fee.

The councillor also pointed out that enforcement might be a “total hassle” if a fee is imposed.

“You’ve got multiple entrances to the building,” he said. “Where do you set it up for people to pay to use that track and are you going to have someone to monitor every person that’s in that facility?”

Jungkind countered that payment could be at the front of the Rec Centre and use of the walking track could be on the honour system with no monitoring.

Coun. Kandis Jameson suggested there be no fee on the walking track for the first few months, and then the issue could be revisited.

Others suggested longer periods of evaluation from six months to the whole year.

“I personally would like to see the opportunity to see the walking track as a free venture for everybody to see how it works after six months,” said Mayor Brad Mapes.

Speaking last week, Mapes said no definite timeframe was set for no fees, explaining council can review the rates at any time.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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